A Fillmore County man who triggered a social media storm last fall after driving around Lincoln with a racist message on his pickup truck was sentenced to prison Tuesday for attempted manufacture of a controlled substance while in possession of a firearm.
Fillmore County District Judge Vicky Johnson sentenced Austin J. Cordis, 21, of rural Ohiowa, Nebraska, to three to five years in prison. In exchange for a guilty plea, prosecutors reduced the charge from possession of a firearm while committing a drug violation and dismissed three other felony charges.
The charges against Cordis were brought after investigators from the Fillmore County Sheriff's Office searched a farm where Cordis lived on March 13, 2020. According to an affidavit filed in Fillmore County Court, investigators located a large hydroponic marijuana-growing operation.
In September, several people posted photos of a pickup truck driven by Cordis in Lincoln with a coarse expletive and the N-word in large red, white and blue lettering above "Trump 2020." Cordis later told The World-Herald that the pickup belonged to him but that he didn't write the message.
An image of the pickup was shared on Twitter and retweeted by, among others, retired professional basketball player Rex Chapman, who has more than 947,000 Twitter followers.
Twitter users then found and shared the pickup owner's name, based on its Fillmore County plates. "I don't know, but I don't even vote," Cordis said at the time. "I'm not a racist. All lives matter."
Cordis said he drove his 2002 Chevy Silverado K1500 to the Gateway Mall near 61st and O Streets in Lincoln about 5 p.m. Sept. 5. He said he was in the mall for "about 20 minutes" and came out to find the message written on the truck's back window.
A Lincoln Police Department spokesman said at the time that he could not find any reports of vehicles being vandalized on that day.
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